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Use of Cessation Methods Among Smokers Aged 16–24 Years—United States, 2003

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being updated.

December 22, 2006 / Vol. 55 / No. 50

MMWR Highlights

  • According to data from the National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey, smokers aged 16–24 years who had ever tried to quit smoking were more likely to make unassisted quit attempts than to use assisted quitting methods.
  • The Public Health Service (PHS) recommends specific assisted methods for treating adult tobacco use that have been shown to be effective. Unassisted attempts to quit are much less likely to result in successful quitting.
  • Unassisted attempts to quit are not recommended by the Public Health Service (PHS) for treating adult tobacco dependence; however, the PHS does recommend most assisted methods.
  • The most frequently used unassisted strategies reported by these young smokers included decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked (88.3%), not buying cigarettes (56.0%), exercising more (51.0%), trying to quit with a friend (47.5%), telling others they no longer smoked (44.5%), and switching to "light" cigarettes (36.1%).
  • Only 2.1% of smokers aged 16–24 called telephone helplines and only 20% spoke to a health professional about quitting even though both strategies can improve chances for successful quitting.
  • Use of certain unassisted quit strategies such as switching to light cigarettes (36.1%) or other tobacco products (18%) is a concern because such strategies may actually undermine successful quitting.
  • The PHS guidelines recommend the following clinician actions for treating youth tobacco dependence: screen young patients and their parents for tobacco use and provide a strong message regarding the importance of totally abstaining from tobacco use; consider counseling and behavioral interventions; consider prescriptions for FDA-approved medications when there is evidence of nicotine dependence and a desire to quit tobacco use; and offer cessation advice and interventions to parents to help them be a positive role model and to limit youth exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Comprehensive tobacco-control programs that decrease smoking prevalence among young people need to be implemented fully in every state and territory to prevent youth from starting to smoke and to support youth and adults who want to quit smoking.